Time Lapses With a Video Camera

I’ve been trying my hand at creating time lapse footage around Edinburgh, whenever I have an hour or so to fill. Luckily it’s a city blessed with some great locations and landmarks worth capturing on camera.

The first location I visited – and I’ll admit it is an obvious one – was the top of Calton Hill, which gives glorious panoramic views of the city. Despite the clouds scudding across the sky, the quality of light was excellent and what immediately caught my eye was how parts of Leith were picked out by beams of bright sunlight.

To seize this opportunity I got my trusty camera and tripod set up as fast I could, then hit ‘record’.

Here’s my power user tip: when you set up for a time lapse session, you are going to have a long time to kill, while the camera rolls. So bring along a warm coat, a flask of tea or a newspaper to read. Otherwise you’ll spend at least 40 minutes fidgeting and bored like I was. Rookie mistake!

However, the footage worked a treat – and I was very happy with my first attempt

For my next time lapse project, I decided to use the epic sweep of the Forth Road Bridge as my backdrop. With a wee bit of careful planning, I was able to stop off for an hour en route to a filming job in Dunfermline. Again, the weather gods seemed to be on my side as the sun was shining brightly with puffy, fluffy white clouds on a piercing blue sky.

A bit of local knowledge is always handy, so I knew to stop off in North Queensferry, which offers more vantage points and easier parking than the tourist trap that is South Queensferry on the other side of the Forth. For my money it also gives a more interesting outlook.

Once again, I set up the camera and let it record for around 40 minutes. If I had time, I would’ve loved to keep it there longer to capture the sweep of the sun across the sky and give an effect which really showed time passing.

Back at the editing suite, I manipulated the colours on the first video, upping the saturation and adding an orange tint to the mid ranges – the overall effect was to make it look more like sunset that mid-afternoon. I love the colours in this.

Since I was pleased with the black and white effect on the earlier Calton Hilll footage, I decided to try out a similar mono edit of the bridge film. The third version shown here is the true colour version.

What is great about a simple time lapse is how easily it can be made. In the simplest terms you 1) let the camera run, 2) take the final footage and 3) dramatically increase the speed at which it plays. For these videos I changed the speed from 100% to 27,000% which really shows on the moving clouds. Only when I was happy with the speed, did I play around with the colours.

I will be creating more of these around the city, as they look great and can be used for a lot of projects, as well as being able to sell them as stock footage.

Out of all the videos, which one do you think is the best? and what locations in Edinburgh would you like to see featured in time lapse footage?



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